The Odyssey Project

Students enrolled in The Odyssey Project will take courses in literature, philosophy, U.S. history, art history, and critical thinking and writing from September through May. Upon successful completion of the program, students will earn six units of college credit in the Humanities from Bard College (all credits earned are fully transferrable).

The Odyssey Project also offers a second-year course, offered in both English and Spanish, for students who are interested in continuing their education in the humanities while earning additional college credits.

Courses are offered in the Chicago neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Albany Park, Cicero (taught in Spanish), and in Urbana-Champaign.

Learn more about The Odyssey Project’s recently-started high-school program – Sojourner Scholars!

The Odyssey Project is offered in conjunction with the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, The University of Chicago’s Civic Knowledge ProjectUniversity of Illinois, Northwestern University’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and Urbana-Champaign’s Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Eligibility and Guidelines

To qualify for The Odyssey Project:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.

  • Read at an adult level. We do a lot of reading in the program, so being able to read a newspaper in English (or in Spanish for the Spanish Course) is a good measure of reading readiness for this course.

  • Live at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (see the application for income guidelines).

  • You DO NOT currently have a four-year college degree (B.A./B.S.).
  • You CAN join The Odyssey Project if you have outstanding student loans and student loans in default or owe money to a college. We DO NOT use Federal Financial Aid Forms.

  • You CAN join The Odyssey Project is you have not completed your high school degree. 
  • We consider special circumstances if you do not qualify based on the above criteria, so please contact us and/or add a note to your application.

  • Submit a complete application 2018-19 Chicago Courses2018-19 Spanish Course, and/or 2018-19 Champaign Urbana Course. The application deadline for all courses is September 1, 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions

The First Year Course

The first-year course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the humanities through the study of philosophy, art history, literature, U.S. history, and critical thinking and writing. In addition to work in the classroom, students will also have the opportunity to see plays, visit museums, and attend public lectures.

Classes meet twice a week in the evenings from mid-September to late-April, and are offered in Chicago’s Albany Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods, and in Champaign/Urbana. A Spanish version of the first year course is also offered in Cicero, IL. Upon successfully completing the first year course, students earn six units of college credits in the Humanities from Bard College.

The Second Year Course

The second-year course is open to those who have successfully completed the first-year course and wish to continue their study of the humanities. In the second-year course, students take two courses that each meet once a week from mid-September through to mid-February.  Upon successful completion of the second year course, students earn an additional six units of college credit in the Humanities from Bard College. Classes are held in downtown Chicago at the Illinois Humanities’ office (125 South Clark St, Suite 650).

El Proyecto Odisea (Spanish Language Course)

El Proyecto Odisea es un curso al nivel universitario para hispanohablantes, que consiste en cinco clases: Redacción y Pensamiento Crítico, Literatura, Historia, Filosofía e Historia de Arte. Las lecturas asignadas y la discusión en clase son en español. Las clases se reúnen de septiembre a mayo, dos veces por semana, en T.G. Masaryk School (5701 W 22nd Place, Cicero). Los estudiantes que cumplan con todos los requisitos del curso recibirán 6 horas de crédito universitario.

Cada dos años ofrecemos el Curso de Segundo Año en Español, abierto a los estudiantes que han completado el nivel básico del Proyecto Odisea y que desean profundizar sus estudios de las humanidades. Los estudiantes tomarán dos cursos durante dos semestres y se reunirán una vez por semana desde septiembre hasta abril. Al completar exitosamente el curso, los estudiantes obtendrán 6 créditos universitarios adicionales. Las clases se imparten en las oficinas de Illinois Humanities (125 South Clark St, Suite 650).

Sojourner Scholars

Sojourner Scholars Summer Humanities Institute provides high school students from four South Side CPS high schools the opportunity to take college level courses with local university and college faculty over the course of three summers, beginning the summer following their freshman year.

During the first two summers of the program, students study literature, U.S. history, philosophy, and art history. In the final summer, students embark upon a research-intensive capstone project that draws upon local, community-based archives and resources.

Upon successfully completing all three summer sessions, students earn six college credits in the humanities that they can transfer to any two or four-year college or university.

In addition to the summer sessions, year-round programming is available to the students in the form of book groups, art making workshops, field trips, internships, and college advising.

Check out the student site:

Odyssey Project Faculty and Staff